Portland, ME – The Providence Bruins top players were better than the Portland Pirates top players as the Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Atlantic Division semifinal with a 5-1 win before 3,642 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates were looking to regain the series lead after losing Game 2 in Rhode Island, 2-1, on Friday, but the Pirates looked flat and unprepared since puck drop.
“There was a lack of composure that made a pretty big difference in the whole game,” Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen. “I think we’re all surprised with the effort and the flatness of our team.”
At the other end of the ice, Martin St. Pierre (1g, 2a, +2), Vladimir Sobotka (1g, 3a, +3), Brad Marchand (1g, 1a, +2) and Johnny Boychuk (2g, 1a, +1) all recorded multiple points on the night for the Bruins.
The Bruins held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Martin St. Pierre rushing down the left wing connected on Brad Marchand’s two-on-one pass, beating Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth at 13:58 of the first period.
So far in the series, Pirates’ rookies Tim Kennedy and Nathan Gerbe have been noticeably absent on the scoresheet, going scoreless in three games, which is something not lost on Dineen.
“No they’ve haven’t (scored) and that’s an issue,” he said. “When you get blown out at home and you start pressing, you’re giving up chances and it gives their skilled players some good opportunities to get rolling.”
“Skilled guys in the playoffs need to put the effort into simplifying things instead of trying to be fancy. They’re intelligent kids and they’ll be fine.”
The second period wasn’t much better for the Pirates.
Brad Marchand, Vladimir Sobotka and Johnny Boychuk added goals in a span of 7:33 in the second period to grab a commanding 4-0 lead over Portland.
Just 59 seconds period, Marchand made it 2-0 when he skated along the near side boards, untouched, and finished off a two-on-one from St. Pierre.
At 3:16, the Pirates were on a four-on-three power play when Sobotka, in the slot, buried Boychuk’s shot off the face off by Enroth to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
Boychuk finished off the second period massacre with a power play goal at 7:33 of the period, beating Enroth with a blistering slapshot through a screen.
“The first five minutes of the second period was a real death toll for us because you get a five-on-three chance and the next thing you know you’re down by four goals,” said Dineen.
It also ended Enroth’s night as Kellen Briggs came into the game, but Dineen was very quick and blunt to deflect the blame of the loss on his goalie.
“Jhonas certainly wasn’t the issue tonight,” he said.
Briggs made 19 saves on the night, but couldn’t stop Boychuk as he scored his second power play goal of the night at 1:21 of the third period.
The Pirates scored their only goal of the game at 11:57 of final period when Derek Whitmore ruined the shutout bid of Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask, although it served as little consolation for the result on the scoreboard.
“We go to Providence and get the split, we come home to play in front of our fans and to have that effort was nothing but embarrassing,” said Whitmore.
The Pirates will have a few days to regroup as Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday at the Civic Center.
NOTES: The Pirates were without defenseman Chris Butler due to a family emergency. Butler played in both playoff games in Providence since being reassigned by the Sabres last week. Butler was recalled by Buffalo just after Christmas, playing in 47 games with the Sabres. He scored his first NHL goal on Mar. 20 against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 27 games with Portland, he scored two goals, 10 assists for 22 points. Dineen didn’t know if he’d return in time for Thursday’s game… Defenseman Mike Kostka was not in the line up because of a lower body injury to his right leg. Kostka was the only defenseman for the Pirates to play in all 80 regular season games… Sabres’ Managing Owner Larry Quinn as well as Sabres GM Darcy Regier was in Portland for today’s game. Both are expected to stay with the Pirates though the week.